Review: Paul Lamb & Chad Strentz – The Rodewald Suite at The Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool: 8th February, 2014

Posted on: Monday, Feb 10, 2014

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Paul Lamb & Chad Strentz – The Rodewald Suite at The Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool – 8th February, 2014

Following last March’s show at the same venue it was a welcome back to Liverpool for Paul Lamb and Chad Strentz, who again delivered a superb two-hour show for a sold-out Rodewald Suite at The Philharmonic Hall . . . and this time the excellent “Goin’ Down This Road” CD was available, and the two sets featured all but one of its 15 songs – delivered in a laid back but engaging style from two of the British blues scene’s leading lights.

Paul Lamb has led his band, The King Snakes, for getting on 30 years now; with a large portion of those years featuring the soulful vocals and guitar of Chad Strentz – who as an Arsenal fan unfortunately picked the wrong day to be in Liverpool! Paul Lamb comes from a pure blues background, which as a youngster saw him influenced by the likes of the greats such as Sonny Terry, Big Bill Broonzy and Sonny Boy Williamson; while Chad Strentz brings some soulful, rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll flavours to the party.

This was two consumate professionals at the top of their game delivering some wonderful music to an intimate and most appreciative audience in the lovely room that The Rodewald Suite is. The show started with their own “The Underdog” – one of only a few originals on the album – before a first dip into the Ray Charles songbook for a passionate “Take These Chains”, beautifully sung by Chad, with Mr. Lamb adding some glorious acoustic harmonica. Other first set treats were the Professor Longhair number “Ya Ya Blues”, taking us back to N’Awlins; then another cover from a soul giant – the late Solomon Burke’s timeless “Cry To Me”.

Paul Lamb’s showcase tribute to Sonny Terry, “Hootin’ And Tootin'” saw him amply demonstrate his brilliant harmonica playing; with a most enjoyable first set ending with a Ray Charles / Johnny Cash medley on “I Got A Woman” / “Folsom Prison Blues” . . . given a rockabilly feel by Chad Strentz’s driving acoustic guitar and of course wonderful vocals.

After a short break the duo were back, opening up with their adaption of the George Gershwin  tune, “Summertime”, retitled “Summertyne” as a nod to Paul’s native North East, with some quite beautiful chromatic harmonica playing. Chad was back in the spotlight on a Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland number, “Today I Started Loving You Again”, before a dip way back in time for Stick’s McGhee’s “Drinking Wine Spody Ody”. Paul Lamb took a solo turn on some classic Sonny Boy Williamson (II), and delivered more virtuoso harmonica on “Fattenin’ Frogs For Snakes” . . . taking alternate vocal and harmonica lines.

This special night ended with a brace of Big Bill Broonzy songs, “Feel So Good” and “Key To The Highway”, broken up in the middle by the gorgeous “Careless Love”, an often-covered song that saw Chad featured. A much-demanded encore saw some audience participation on the traditional tune, probably best known for Leadbelly’s version, “Midnight Special” . . . a rousing end to a most enjoyable evening from two great musicians.


(Pic by Ken Peace)

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